chain tensioner comparison- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    chain tensioner comparison

    I'm converting my old CX frame to SS for SSCX racing and I'm looking at what chain tensioner to get. I don't want to use the "magic gear" as I want to be able to change the gearing depending upon course, etc. I really see three options:

    1 - Use an old rear derailleur. I don't really have one hanging around so I'd be looking to get one on the cheap. Has anyone tried this and are there any problems with it? I've heard some chain slip issues possibly.

    2 - A regular chain tensioner with one guide pulley. This seems like it could fall off more easily than using a derailleur as tension is only being put on one side of the chain. I see some of them you can change the amount of tension being put on the chain with a slider. This seems to be better than having a preset spring tension.

    3 - A 2 pulley chain tensioner like the Shimano Alfine. This seems to be more or less like an old derailleur but comes with shims to set it to the correct chain line.

    It seems like #2 has an advantage over the others that you are a lot less likely to get the derailleur knocked by a stick or something similar as you would on a geared bike.

    Anyone have any thoughts about this?

  2. #2
    The perfessor
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    - chain tensioner for me, just my choice.....lighter than derailleur and easy to set up, no guess work....
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  3. #3
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    2 with a DMR tensioner. It's fixed position, and with rubberized roller instead of a jockey wheel it's quieter and can't skip.



    I've also used the spring style auto tensioner with a jockey wheel. Skipped under load (say 80% or more) hard enough to make me stop and check that everything was still ok.

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  4. #4
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    I have the Surly Singleator, and for all the jabs I've seen taken at it here, it worked perfectly for a year of running a SS conversion. Used a zip tie to ensure it didn't allow too much movement, which was a little cheesy, but it wasn't noticeable.
    It may get pressed into temporary service again, since right now I'm wrestling with using an ISCG mount Blackspire Stinger for another conversion. Going to have to buy a new chainring with less offset for the parts to match up, but it means I can cut off the derailleur hanger from my spare dropout(thruaxle), then grind or have it machined so it's flush with the frame. That'll look cleaner than having the Singleator hanging off the RD hanger, but it's really not going to work any better.

    Singleator on my old bike:
    chain tensioner comparison-fb_img_1490423814869.jpg

  5. #5
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    The Surly Singulator above is pretty slick comes with 2 springs for press up or push down mode plus you can adjust the "clutchiness" of the Singulators movement so there's little bouncing around. Chain wrap in the press up mode as shown in the pic above makes it pretty much skip proof. I ran mine without the side-guards on a bike I used have without issue. I tried some imitations like Performance house brand Forte and those really suck in comparison.
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  6. #6
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    Surly Singlator works for me and I like to push down instead...since it prevents the chain from slapping the chainstay....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SingleSpeed73 View Post
    Surly Singlator works for me and I like to push down instead...since it prevents the chain from slapping the chainstay....
    yeah good point, and some chainstay arrangements better than others in that regard
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  8. #8
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    I've used a lot of different tensioning methods. Derailers don't give any wrap and that is a problem with single speed cogs. The cogs have different tooth profiles than cassettes so they require more wrap or will skip eventually. I prefer a two pulley tensioner. Even in push up mode the surly and other single pulleys didn't give enough chain wrap and tension. Of the two pulley my favorite is the trialtech sport sprung. When installed it tucks right up in with the chai stay and the pulleys can be horizontal. The Melvin doesn't have the right geometry to keep it tucked up in and hangs down like a dérailleur. Rohloff doesn't have enough chain line adjustment. The shimano doesn't give real good chain wrap because the top pulley doesn't reach up far enough.

  9. #9
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    I'm using a BB-mounted Blackspire Stinger on my SS conversion these days, and it's been rock solid.

    I had to go to something with a fixed position and no pully wheel after blowing up a few Singulators on the trail -- damn things just kept catching rocks and disintegrating on me.

  10. #10
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    I've found the Soulcraft Convert to be very reliable. It uses a pin to index the tensioner into position. If you need to pull the rear wheel, you retract the pin and rotate the arm out of the way of the drop out. Super simple and no spring bounce.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails chain tensioner comparison-ss_homegrown_chinstay.jpg  

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  11. #11
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    Thanks for the replies everyone! I liked the design of the Trialtech Sport Sprung but could only find websites in the UK selling them. I ended up buying something of a similar design off eBay. It was cheap at $19.

  12. #12
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    After going through a bunch of hassle to make the Stinger work(it did, and would have been great with a round chainring), I went back to the Singleator today. Gotta have something spring-loaded to keep the chain tensioned with an oval. The idea of it constantly losing and regaining tension didn't sit well with me.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OwenM View Post
    After going through a bunch of hassle to make the Stinger work(it did, and would have been great with a round chainring), I went back to the Singleator today. Gotta have something spring-loaded to keep the chain tensioned with an oval. The idea of it constantly losing and regaining tension didn't sit well with me.
    No doubt. I was told by the folks at Blackspire that there's no chance it hell it could ever work well with an oval. (which is one of many reasons I'm upgrading to a SS-specific frame soon)

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by paleh0rse View Post
    No doubt. I was told by the folks at Blackspire that there's no chance it hell it could ever work well with an oval.
    Yeah, I wasn't thinking. Got my projects mixed, since I was considering using the Stinger with SRAM's GX DH 7speed at one point, and riding it like a singlespeed with optional gears for different terrain. The derailleur would have maintained chain tension, with the cassette spacing(11sp without the 4 biggest cogs) making the shift in chainline a good thing.
    When I decided to just go back to SS after briefly trying gears again, it came down to fixed tensioner/round chainring vs. sprung tensioner/oval, and the oval won.

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